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John's Journal... Entry 243, Day 2


Throw It All Out The Window

Editor's Note: The most-difficult question for a bass fisherman to answer is, "How do you know when to change lures, when to change water and when to change fishing techniques?" Often the difference in catching bass and not catching bass is your ability to know when to change. Making the right decisions at the correct times will spell victory or defeat for a tournament bass fisherman or a weekend angler. On Table Rock Lake in Missouri, during the second week of March, Mark Davis' ability to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em was the reason he won $100,000 in the BASS tournament there. If you'll read each day's upload this week, you'll see how Davis made those critical decisions at the right time each day to catch more bass than the best 150 fishermen in the nation. This week's information may be some of the most important you'll learn about catching bass. So, don't miss a day this week.

Question: Mark, what happened when you went to bed the night before the first day of the tournament?
Davis: I was shocked when I got up the next morning. This area at Table Rock got 5 inches of rain that night, which made the lake rise dramatically. Before I'd gone to bed, I stuck a 12-inch stick in the ground right at the water's edge. I generally would do that every night after a tournament so that when I got up the next morning I could determine whether the lake had gone up or down over the night. When I got up on the first morning of the tournament, that 12-inch stick was under water, so I knew we'd had more than a foot's rise on the lake overnight.

I also realized that now I had to disregard everything I'd learned in practice. Now the bass would change to adapt to the changing water conditions. I also knew that all the creeks would be running with plenty of muddy water and that the water coming into the lake would be warmer than the water already present in the lake. I checked the water temperature in the main lake, and the water in the lake was 43 degrees. When I went to the first creek, I found that the water coming into the lake was 50 degrees, which was a 7-degree change in water temperature from the water coming into the lake to the water present in the lake. Because we were fishing during the pre-spawn, I knew the bass would be hunting that warmer water. Too, I realized that the stained water coming into the lake would be where all the baitfish were.

So before the take-off at the tournament, I told myself, "Throw out everything you've learned in practice. Start all over again, and look for bass in new water." That's what I think is one of the big secrets of successful bass fishing. Just about every day you go on the water, especially during the spring, when and if water conditions and the weather conditions change, you have to be willing to give up a productive pattern you only may have learned yesterday, and establish a new pattern to match the conditions you have today.

Question: How did you change, Mark?
Davis: I decided not to fish the bluffs where I'd caught bass on the previous day. I put away my crankbait tackle box and got out my spinner bait box. I chose a Strike King Premier Pro Model spinner bait with a chartreuse-and-white skirt and gold Colorado blades. I started searching for creeks that were bringing fresh warm, muddy water into the lake. The first creek I stopped in, I didn't get a bite. But the second creek I came to, I caught 15 bass. Once I had a limit in the livewell and had culled to my best five bass, I ran all over the lake checking different creeks. I caught bass all day long and culled bass all day long in those feeder creeks, fishing that spinner bait in the stained water. I had 19 pounds of bass for my first day of fishing.

Question: Mark, is this one of the problems that most fishermen face, not being willing to give up a productive pattern like you had when you were fishing the bluffs with crankbait and changing to a completely different pattern by spinner baiting in muddy water in the backs of creeks when the conditions changed?
Davis: Giving up the pattern that had produced the bass for me the day before was hard. But, I'd learned from past experience that any time I had new water coming into a lake, especially warm, dirty water into a cold lake, more than likely, that place was where the bass would be. I could have stayed with my crankbait pattern, and I know I would have caught some bass. More than likely I could have caught a 10- or a 12-pound stringer staying with that pattern. However, I knew to catch a bigger string of bass I needed to be fishing in that fresh water.

Question: What made you know that the bigger bass were going to be in that fresh water?
Davis: That idea was totally an experience call for me. I'd fished in deep, clear lakes before when new water was coming into them. Experience had taught me that the bigger bass would move to that new water. I grew up, all my life, with this principle of bass fishing. The hardest decision was for me to decide to leave the bluffs where I "knew" I could catch bass and go fish that new water where I "believed" I could catch bigger bass. I realized that someone in the tournament was going to adapt and go to that new water, and I knew if he did, he would probably catch a heavy stringer. So, I decided that person needed to be me.

Question: On what were the bass in those creeks holding?
Davis: The bass were laying behind any kind of current break in the slack water and attacking any bait that ran by the slack water. We had really-heavy current coming into these little creeks, so anything the bass could hide behind to break the current was where I caught them.

Question: What kind of retrieve did you use on your spinner bait?
Davis: I was using a slow, steady retrieve and trying to crawl the spinner bait on the bottom so that it would bump any kind of log or rock that was close to the bottom.

Question: At the end of the day, Mark, what position were you in?
Davis: I was coming in second behind Paul Elias. I had 18 pounds 10 ounces of bass, and Paul had 20 pounds 1 ounce.

Visit the Strike King Web site to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more about MARK DAVIS - BASS FISHING'S TOUGHEST QUESTIONS ANSWERED ...

Day 1 - Establishing the Pattern
Day 2 - Throw It All Out The Window
Day 3 - Throw It All Out The Window Again
Day 4 - Having To Share Water
Day 5 - Knowing When To Hold 'Em And When To Fold 'Em Pays Off

John's Journal